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What Should Your Poop Look Like?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

healthy stool

Story at-a-glance -

  • The Bristol stool chart is widely used as a tool to help patients identify their type of stool when seeing their doctor
  • The seven-point scale ranges from constipation (Type 1) to diarrhea (Type 7), with a variety of consistencies in between
  • Type 1 is an indication that a person is very constipated, while Type 2 is associated with slight constipation
  • Types 3 and 4 are normal and ideal, while Type 5 is a sign that you may be lacking fiber. Types 6 and 7, diarrhea, signal inflammation
  • While it’s normal for your stool to fluctuate from day to day, particularly if you have changes in your diet, you should be aiming for Types 3 and 4 most of the time, with a soft consistency, smooth texture and shape like a sausage, snake or torpedo

The size, shape and color of your stool give valuable clues as to the state of your health. It's so important, in fact, that in 1997 Stephen Lewis and Ken Heaton with the U.K.'s Bristol Royal Infirmary teaching hospital developed what's now known as the Bristol stool chart.

The chart, formally known as the Bristol stool form scale, was developed after the team conducted a study showing the chart's usefulness for monitoring changes in intestinal function.

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